Sunday, 13 November 2011
Penn State Loses To Nebraska In First Game Without Joe Paterno
The Penn State players left the field with their heads bowed, the fans mostly silent.
A lifetime worth of emotions was crammed into the past week. Shock, rage, regret and, now, exhaustion. The child sex-abuse scandal involving former assistant Jerry Sandusky cost Joe Paterno his job and, no doubt, scarred Penn State's soul.
A football game on a brilliant autumn afternoon won't erase it.It was, however, a start.
"We've had better weeks in our lives, obviously," Paterno's son Jay, the quarterbacks coach, said after No. 12 Penn State's 17-14 loss to No. 19 Nebraska on Saturday. "The world's kind of turned upside down, but I think our kids were resilient."
The game was a combination of pep rally, cleansing and tribute, a way to acknowledge the past and take a step into the future. Affection for Penn State and Paterno was abundantly visible from players, fans and, yes, coaches. So was support for abuse victims, the kind of empathy many felt was missing in the days after news of the scandal broke.
"I said, `You and I, in my life, haven't always seen eye to eye. But generally speaking, it's (because) I had to grow up, to catch up to make eye contact with you,'" Jay Paterno recalled. "There were a lot of lessons that I learned from him."
At Joe Paterno's house nearby, a small clutch of TV cameras and reporters stood outside. Two people walked to the door, rang the bell and left when no one answered. On the lawn was a pair of homemade signs facing the house. One said, "We Love You Joe, Thank You" and the other, "Thanks Joe."
A small American flag was planted nearby.
"There's not going to be closure anytime soon," said Brandon Hewitt, a senior from York, Pa. "I feel horrible what happened to the kids. I feel bad for what happened about Joe. But today was about football, and it was heartwarming to see the university rally around a terrible time."